Humanities Center

Visiting Scholars

Stephanie Sparling Williams, "Black Feminist Critique and Ontological Reconciliation in Artist Lorraine O'Grady's Diptychs"

Thursday, September 23rd, 5:30 PM 

Stephanie Sparling Williams

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Sparling Williams's recent monograph  Speaking Out of Turn: Lorraine O'Grady and the Art of Language examines black feminist conceptual artist Lorraine O'Grady's use of language, both written and spoken, and charts her strategic use of direct address-- the dialectic posture O'Grady's art takes in relationship to its viewers. This talk locates O'Grady's spatially attuned and textually oriented visual practice as one that both aligns with several key practices of the 1980s and 90s and breaks away in crucially innovative ways through her use of the diptych form.

Dr. Stephanie Sparling Williams is the Associate Curator at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, and a Visiting Lecturer in Art History and Africana Studies at Mount Holyoke College. Sparling Williams has organized numerous exhibitions including Proposition, Form, Gesture: Modern & Contemporary Art from the MHCAM Collection (2020); Wayfinding: Contemporary Arts, Critical Dialogues, and the Sidney R. Knafel Map Collection with Allison Kemmerer (2020) at the Addison Gallery of American Art; Harlem: In Situ (2019), also at the Addison; From America to Americas (2018), sponsored by the Tang Institute at Phillips Academy; Color & Device: Contemporary Art in the Addison's Collection (2018), and Gun Country (2018). Sparling Williams is the recent recipient of the inaugural Mary Ann Unger Estate Fellowship (2020); the Association of Art Museum Curator's Mentorship Award (2019); and the Brace Center Faculty Fellowship in Gender Studies at Phillips Academy (2019). Her book on feminist conceptual artist Lorraine O'Grady, Speaking Out of Turn (2021), is the first monograph dedicated to the forty-year oeuvre of the artist. 


Diana Taylor  "Reparative Memory: Trauma, Memory, Accountability, and Repair"

Thursday, October 21 2021, 5:30 PM

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diana taylor headshot

What can we do when it seems that nothing can be done, and doing nothing is not an option? How do communities hardest hit by Covid-19 transform the traumatic memories of loss into practices of repair? This talk will explore some of the theoretical and practical implications of these questions.

Diana Taylor is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish at New York University. She is the award-winning author of multiple books, among them: Theatre of Crisis (1991), Disappearing Acts (1997), The Archive and the Repertoire (2003), Performance (2016), and ¡Presente! The Politics of Presence (2020), and co-editor of Holy Terrors (2003), Stages of Conflict (2008) and Lecturas avanzadas de Performance (2011), among others. Taylor was the Founding Director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics from 1998 to 2000. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and several other major awards. In 2017, Taylor was President of the Modern Language Association. In 2018 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Science. In 2021 she was awarded the Edwin Booth Award for “outstanding contribution to the NYC theatre community, and to promote integration of professional and academic theatre.”

Mimi Onuoha,  "The Hair In The Cable."

Tuesday, March 22, 2022, 5:30

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Mini Onuoha

Mimi Onuoha is a Nigerian-American artist creating work about a world made to fit the form of data. By foregrounding absence and removal, her multimedia practice uses print, code, installation and video to make sense of the power dynamics that result in disenfranchised communities' different realtionships to systems that are digital, cultural, historical, and ecological.

Onuoha has spoken and exhibited internationally and has been in in residence at Studio XX (Canada), Data & Society Research Institute (USA), the Royal College of Art (UK), Eyebeam Center for Arts & Technology (USA), and Arthouse Foundation (Nigeria, upcoming). She lives and works in Brooklyn.

Usha Iyer, "Indian Cinema and the Caribbean: Rhythmic Flows and Media Intimacies across Creolized Geographies"

Thursday, April 7, 2022, 5:30 PM

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Usha Iyer
Scholarship on Indian cinema has focused mainly on the subcontinent and the newer, so-called “First World diasporas” of Europe and North America. An older diaspora was created in the 19 th century through the transportation of nearly two million Indians to the Caribbean and elsewhere as indentured labor. The mixing of African- and Indian-diasporic cultures in Trinidad, Suriname, and Guyana has produced a dazzling mélange of hybrid visual, performance, and sonic forms, many of which are centrally informed by popular Indian cinema, a key cultural presence in the region since the 1930s.
Through the case study of an Indian performing duo, Babla and Kanchan, whose film music shows were wildly popular in the Anglophone Caribbean in the 1980s, this talk examines the pulsating energies of cultural traffic between the Caribbean and the Bombay film industry, mapping multi-directional, transoceanic creolization across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
Employing a transregional mode of analysis, this talk considers the interplay of spatial scales between the local, national, and global, as well as the temporal scales of empire, slavery, indenture, and postcoloniality to understand how the movement of commodities, capital, and labor produce certain cultural circuits and film industrial formations. The traffic of labor and culture across oceanic media pathways are embodied in film music orchestras like Babla and Kanchan’s that carry sonic and kinetic practices across regions, languages, and Black and brown racial identities, producing as it were, a cinematic cosmopolitanism from below. Studying cinema’s intermedial networks between and across Bombay and the Caribbean illuminates the multi-sited enfoldings of transcultural, transregional exchanges that extend and enrich conversations on race, media, and identity.
Usha Iyer is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. Their book,  Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2020), examines constructions of gender, stardom, sexuality, and spectacle in Hindi cinema through women’s labor, collaborative networks, and gestural genealogies. Their current project studies the affective engagements of Caribbean spectators with Indian cinema and the impact of Caribbean performance forms on Indian film industries. Dr. Iyer is Associate Editor of  South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. Their essays have appeared and are forthcoming in  Camera ObscuraSouth Asian Popular Culture,  Figurations in Indian Film, and  The Oxford Handbook of Film Theory, among others.

Art and Social Change

With the 2020-21 theme, Art and Social Change, the Humanities Center seeks to inspire discussion about the ways that art can help us understand the past, engage with current social concerns, and envision the future. Events will highlight interdisciplinary humanities research and creative activity on the impact of the arts on society, locally and internationally. Focusing on intersectional issues of social justice, including systemic racism, sexism, and economic disparity, we will engage scholars, students, and the community in conversation on how art reflects and provokes social change.

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